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'Uptown Girls' plot is as flaky as its characters

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2003

There's probably an audience for "Uptown Girls." But give them six months, and they'll grow out of it.

Only a child favorably impressed by too much bad TV or too many of the wrong movies could confuse "Uptown Girls" with entertainment.

It's an adolescent's idea of a serious movie.

With the story credited to Allison Jacobs and the screenplay to Julia Dahl, Mo Ogrodnik and Lisa Davidowitz, you have to bet someone in this mix is old enough to drive. But then, there's incriminating evidence they aren't: the movie.

In a part that seems to have been inspired (but not very much) by blond airhead comedies, Brittany Murphy acts New Yorker Molly Gunn.

Her parents, including papa-rocker Tommy Gunn, were killed in a plane crash, making her an heiress. She's weepy -- but not about them -- whiny, vain, insecure and spoiled. And a seriously exasperating flake.

She takes home British rock guitarist Neil Fox (Jesse Spencer) as a boy toy for a few days, then can't decide whether to discard him and risk loneliness.

She's as skin-deep as her attractions, but we're to take them seriously.

You know how boys and girls meet cute in romantic comedies• Adjust the scenario just a little.

In "Uptown Girls," Molly meets sassy 8-year-old Ray Schleine (Dakota Fanning of "I Am Sam") in a nightclub ladies' room, where Ray projects the precocious obnoxiousness that sitcoms invariably confuse with adorable American childhood.

The older and younger girls hate each other, which is the first and only credible response in the movie.

When Molly's unscrupulous business manager absconds with all of her money -- his existence being a plot point conveniently put aside thereafter -- she needs a job.

You're not going to believe this.

Yes, you are. You can see it coming, can't you•

Molly -- Ready now• -- gets herself hired as -- You got it! -- Ray's full-time sitter.

I mean, what are the chances•

But what will become of Molly's pet pig from Bangkok• Not being much of a visionary, Molly doesn't recognize his BLT potential.

Darned if the girls don't bond, what with Ray's mom, Roma (Heather Locklear), being too busy to parent and Ray's dad being in a coma.

"Uptown Girls" gives it all to you in one grab bag. It's icky, shallow, tedious, full of phony self-pity and well-equipped with artificial uplift.

It also might be the first movie directed by someone (Boaz Yakin) whose name appears an extra time on-screen during a clip from a music video.

But then, movie coincidences are like peanuts. It's hard to stop after just one.

Additional Information:

Movie Details

'Uptown Girls'

Director: Boaz Yakin

Stars: Brittany Murphy, Dakota Fleming, Heather Locklear

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexual content and language

stars

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